The Corner

New York Times Op-Ed: It Was a Mistake to Believe the Hockey Stick

Richard Muller, a professor of physics at Berkeley said it, not us. His point is that the warming pause wouldn’t be considered a big deal if it weren’t for the hockey stick:

As for the recent plateau, I predicted it, back in 2004. Well, not exactly. In an essay published online then at MIT Technology Review, I worried that the famous “hockey stick” graph plotted by three American climatologists in the late 1990s portrayed the global warming curve with too much certainty and inappropriate simplicity. The graph shows a long, relatively unwavering line of temperatures across the last millennium (the stick), followed by a sharp, upward turn of warming over the last century (the blade). The upward turn implied that greenhouse gases had become so dominant that future temperatures would rise well above their variability and closely track carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.

I knew that wasn’t the case. The planet warmed by 0.6 degrees over the prior 50 years, but occasional, unexplained temperature fluctuations of as much as 0.3 degrees countered the rise at times and resulted in apparent pauses. Some of the fluctuations might have been caused by shifting ocean currents related to the Gulf Stream and El Niño — the episodic appearance of unusually warm ocean temperatures along the west coast of South America.

And he quotes himself in that essay:

“Suppose . . . future measurements in the years 2005-2015 show a clear and distinct global cooling trend. (It could happen.) If we mistakenly took the hockey stick seriously — that is, if we believed that natural fluctuations in climate are small — then we might conclude (mistakenly) that the cooling could not be just a random fluctuation on top of a long-term warming trend, since according to the hockey stick, such fluctuations are negligible. And that might lead in turn to the mistaken conclusion that global warming predictions are a lot of hooey. If, on the other hand, we reject the hockey stick, and recognize that natural fluctuations can be large, then we will not be misled by a few years of random cooling.”

Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com. 

Most Popular

Elections

Elizabeth Warren Is Jussie Smollett

Elizabeth Warren has a moving story about being fired from a teaching job because she was pregnant, a story that perfectly complements her political narrative that she is the tribune and champion of those who have been treated unfairly by the powerful. Joe Biden has a moving — and horrifying — story about his ... Read More
Culture

The Origins of the Transgender Movement

Editor’s Note: This article has been adapted from remarks delivered at a Heritage Foundation summit. I’ve been asked to talk about the origins of transgenderism and how it relates to children and their exploitation. But first, I would like to start with a little story. Yesterday I was wandering around ... Read More
World

Kurdish, Syrian, and Turkish Ironies

Outrage met Donald Trump’s supposedly rash decision to pull back U.S. troops from possible confrontational zones between our Kurdish friends in Syria and Recep Erdogan’s expeditionary forces. Turkey claims that it will punish the Syrian Kurds for a variety of supposed provocations, including aiding and ... Read More
PC Culture

Defiant Dave Chappelle

When Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special Sticks & Stones came out in August, the overwhelming response from critics was that it was offensive, unacceptable garbage. Inkoo Kang of Slate declared that Chappelle’s “jokes make you wince.” Garrett Martin, in the online magazine Paste, maintained that the ... Read More
Sports

LeBron James Looks Like a Fraud

So, LeBron James claimed that Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey was simply “misinformed or not really educated on the situation” when he tweeted his support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. “I don’t want to get into a feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at ... Read More